What makes a man a monster?
What simplest word can cause the tamed lion to bite?
The gentlest rainfall can turn into a thunderstorm in a matter of minutes,
The light crackle from an April shower— it can bellow up into a terrifying shudder—
Shaking the Earth below it,
Rattling the wooden limbs above it.
Everybody has a Mr. Hyde,
Though concealed with false words and a pressing smile,
Even the bat of beautiful lashes, or the teasing words of a delicate whisper,
Sometimes things are like a rose,
Stunning to see, but hurtful to touch.
They say, “what a wretched creature; crack the whip”,
But I’m telling you this,
It is what it is.
Those who do not believe,
Have not yet looked in the mirror.
The petal peddler came to town today; he asked to meet the clergy. He had once sold rose stems, and sunflower blooms, and flowers long since dried—sun soaked to grant escape from the decay that is life, that is time, that lingers with us forever.
The petal peddler asked to see our shore, he asked to set up shop, but the clergy told the mayor, who told the clerks, who told the builders to refuse his money and gold and force of will, and have him look out into the crystal water, but not to keep it for himself. The petal peddler went his less than merry way, finding his feet against the rocks and sand of our illustrious coast—flooded with pounding waves, that for a moment in time gave the beach blossoms, and gritty white petals, before withering in an instant.
The petal peddler stared into the great expanse of the sea, as the sun itself knelt before the night, and water pressed down against the peddler’s cheeks, until he too fell onto the sand and along the rocks. A cross, and a jar of petals, were in the petal peddler’s hands, and he laid them to rest against the shore. He stayed in that spot, till he too dried and ebbed into nothing, leaving only his petals, his cross, and a charred child’s toy.
The clergy met, and planted two stones where the petal peddler had watched the sun set—flowers would bloom their in the Spring, as children would come to play amongst the petals, the shore, and the sand.
And the petal peddler would stand there in the Spring, happy to be reunited with his child— watching the children play amongst the blooms, his immortal family.
There’s the past, the present, and the future, we’re told—from birth to death, and during the life we live between them. We have our families, big and small, hectic and civil, all throughout, and just as our days unfold and become distant, so do those in our lives become. Each facet of these things change as the seasons we remember and forget, yet always lingering with reminders and lessons kept. Our families become those we see only on holiday, and are added by our friends and neighbors and pets. Within my present I lie in a hole, but like most of us my eyes are often set on a future I’d like to see. I see the coming Spring, far from my current memory. A sun above, gazing softly. I have plans to wake to a home, plants planted, stories written and ground founded in a town, or a city, or a place I’ve come to call home. I see handshakes, and newborns, and the old falling away—memorialized. I think of mild meetings, talks of our day to day, ordinary passings that now seem grander than I know they will be. In my present, I think of these things, built up by my past, and await cheerfully the future. From time to time, there’s fear, there’s uncertainty, and like most I try to dissuade myself from that feeling of wandering—where the next day looks to be another like the rest, or worse that I’m groveling in the dark, like a man lost in the wood trying desperately to find the familiar, to find home. A man lost at sea almost never looks at the setting sun on the water and thinks of beauty, but maybe the ship on the horizon is the same. Security is sought after, but I’d like to hope that I might enjoy the beauty of my times of uncertainty. I never know what sunrise I might miss upon searching, futilely, the overgrowth beneath my feet. I have a path to take, but memory always builds along the way—so I think I might should try to take in the sun along with the rain.
"Hey, what does that say?"
She pointed up to the sky, at a place between the crescent moon and the only two clouds in our view. I laid there, in the warm summer air, for what seemed like an hour, or forever, or maybe ten minutes or so. I was drunk—I didn’t know what to say.
"I think it says, ‘I love you.’" I slurred, trying in my intoxicated state to be romantic, trying to relay my infatuation to this girl I’d only just met.
She then looked back at me, her eyes meeting mine, and a stern, fervid expression painted her face.
"No, that’s incorrect, babe."
She got up, stumbled, and walked off into the night.
And I never saw her again.
But while I was confused at what all had happened that I had missed, I looked intently at the sky. I looked on, right at the point of the crescent moon and where the two clouds met. I stayed still, right there in the grass, in the dead-stillness of night, and I looked for any kind of inscription in the great glow of that sky, expanding endlessly before me.
And I found it.
I turned my head, rubbed my eyes, and there against the stars there were words plain as day in the pitch black of that night. I called out into the evening darkness, yelling, laughing, asking my mystery girl to come back, that I had uncovered the mystery, that I had read what she had seen.
There was no response. And so I sat there, looking on at those words in the sky that I had deciphered, as tears started to roll down my eyes.
I don’t know why that happened, or what happened after that, but I was found in the morning—alone.
I awoke just in time to see the sun rise, my hidden message disappearing, and a new memory I could now put tightly away appearing, locked in my head as a reminder to always look beyond the horizon, to gaze past the apparent.
There’s more to read than just the wind rustling, the tombstones being placed, and the grass growing against the harsh summer sunlight.
And that thought is what kept me alive that day, and the day I lived after that.
Our sour stories keep getting told, yet I don’t want you to hear them! I don’t want you to know, to know how far away we ran—how lonely that road was, and how we yet still never turned back. Do you hate us, darling? Do you hate me? Do you hate me for stealing the snow, and letting you go without our story being written down, and given the proper ending? I couldn’t bear it! I couldn’t, I couldn’t. You’ve got to know, darling, that I stole the world of night that day so that the summer could be born. I know I was selfish, and frightened, and wrong, but it was all I could do—I couldn’t take your eyes dying over and over again. So I took the cold and shadow from the sky, and ran and ran with a herd of evil that I couldn’t shake; they loved the darkness and the chilling blanket I had removed, so they bit at my heels, and eventually became my bedmates, my friends. Darling, I know I’m gone, and the world around is sharing our sad and happy days long already done, but please, let them not echo back into the void I now am. I broke the balance of the world so that summer would come for you, that the light would sink into your eyes and keep them alive, but please, know I never meant to leave pain behind. Forget the pages we didn’t write down, and maybe sing a different song with the birds that have now been given new lungs. Please, darling, accept life, and forget the death that I became.
Get a drink from the cupboard, they said. They said that it would calm the nerves, said that it’d ease the pain. What pain did they mean? They sat next to the cabinets, they drowned in the drink, so what did they feel? I’ve been there, they said. But….where had they been? Where had they gone? Where…..was I? It’ll all pass, they said. Well, that’s true. It’s passed for me—I’m through. I don’t need the drink from the cupboard, I can take my pain, I know where I’ve been…..and I know now how I’ll go on. What about you?
There’s a lull in the back of my mind, reaching across my ears, sneaking against my forehead, and stretching and striking my poor eyes. It’s built cement shoes on my consciousness, and it’s beaten my attention bloody.
It’s a powerful thing, apparently.
Though, I don’t really care.
The lull dies, and takes its funeral time to turn into sleep, and so when I’m left by its graveside barely breathing, I’ll turn and have my bed—and maybe some rest again.
“Fuck! What do you think you’re doing!?”
Oh, the place is on fire now. And I’m holding the lighter. And I already threw away the gasoline carton, didn’t I?
I wonder why I did this.
“Dude—ah, the fuck!—we’ve gotta get out of here, man! The place is ablaze, and we’re cooked if we get stuck in here.
Are you even listening?
Gotta death sentence, pyro?
We’ve gotta get out of here!!”
Is that supposed to be me?
I wonder why he’s upset? He doesn’t work here, I know that—I think.
Yeah—I haven’t seen him before.
He’s not supposed to be here. The theater was closed this weekend for inspection.
That’s why I’m here.
“Okay, you little fuck, you can stay here and get boiled—I’m not dying in this shit-stain of a place. This mess wasn’t worth a couple hundred.”
Oh, I get it now.
Someone wanted this place to fail the inspection—I guess to get the plot.
Had to be someone new in town, everyone else knew that this place doesn’t stand a chance against the regulations.
Doesn’t matter though.
Doesn’t matter that they were going to plant something.
Doesn’t matter that they think they can take this space—take its place.
Regulation states that buildings with casualty rates don’t get replaced without a lot of money—without a lot of time.
I remember now—that’s why I’m here.
“See ya, pyro. Good luck with the flames, freak.”
He’s finally starting to walk instead of talk now.
Good for him—good luck to him, too.
He’s going to need it anyway—he’s going the wrong way. If he wanted to get out, then he needed to go left, when he went right. Would I have told him that if he had asked?
I don’t know…doesn’t matter, anyway.
There’s just going to be double the casualty rate, now.
I’m a sentimental beast - latching and taking hold of whatever might keep the residue of some distant pleasant memory.
I seek out the memories from the past, hoping to find their remains still clinging to the paths walked, and the familiar places that were painted with our laughter and jubilee.
I keep going back to the the parts of my present that built up my past, the places where I was made into the man that now stands among empty, lonely, and lost views from a time now etched only on walls of thoughts and dreams.
I’m a nostalgic collector, keeping close those few moments I thought I could never regret…..
but paintings lose their sheen, and photographs gather dust, or get lost in the light that time delivers. I’m a sentimental scavenger, carrying away moments passed, as the present delivers changes I didn’t think would come to pass.
I’m to much of a nostalgic venturer to let my past dictate the paintings being painted now, though, and so I will drown the old beast and scavenger, and wait for what comes after. I will linger on what I might hold on to next.
I want to write about toothaches. There isn’t a reason for it, there’s nothing from my near-pristine gape to suggest that I suffer from one, but I thought of a word, and that was the idea that came to mind.
I could write about my history with them. My month long war with the bloody beacons of my own painful venture was a tiring thing. And in that logic, I slept and slept, and yet the aches against my jaw and what seemed like humanity itself never ceased, the high seas of blood and spit raging amongst my cranial munch crunchers, reminding me of the foulness those poor fellows endured.
I could also present some symbolism. A toothache is similar to a thought that you’ve just forgotten, lost in the sudden swell of a moment. The feeling starts with a throb and a spike, hitting you softly but surely like a heavy raindrop, and then it lingers, like a beggar you once paid on your street. They’re both the aggravating sort of occurrence that you can hardly let your mind forget, seeing as how each motion—or in the case of a thought, each passing moment—brings nothing but an uncomfortable unpleasantness to your awareness.
I could maybe mention the times my fine fellows also came under the burden of such a thing. The times when a possible majority was reached, and upon listening closely during our times of our united lunch outings, I would hear a symphony of complaints—to a varying degree—detailing the nature of their confinement within the plague of pearly white torment.
….I don’t know if there’s anything else I could say—
toothaches kind of suck.
There’s so much to say, but so many words have so little meaning. A history might have been born, and also a possible symphony, but the soft tones of the syllables and the harsh realities wouldn’t have had a great enough voice to echo over the cacophony of distant, adverse, possibility. Every word I hoped to write, every thought I wished to speak, and every note I wished to make, never keeps enough solidity before being swept away—like the sands of time gripped down by gravity. I’ll let what I wanted to say sleep, because I don’t possess the means or the time to put back every piece of importance they once held. At the very least, the dust that’s been left behind will linger on the walls of my mind, reminding me to always chase after and keep each meaningful memory—the one’s that will forever be locked within me.